Wailea Bar Dining
Hi, all. I have done my research, I think, and am interested in opinions regarding "bar seating" at some of the better restaurants in Wailea. This will be our first stay on this part of the island. We usually stay on Napili Beach and greatly enjoy walking to Merriman's for dinner. We usually dine at the bar because we enjoy the people-watching and smaller plates (which means we can try more things). So...we are looking for a similar experience in Wailea. Budget is not a concern. In general, we enjoy watching the sunset on the beach, then heading over to a nice restaurant for dinner, without having to stick to a strict reservation. For those who know Merriman's, we are looking for a similar experience in Wailea. Not similar food, necessarily, just a similar vibe, with quality food and drink. Any thoughts appreciated.
A million years later (we went in March), here is what we did:
The first part of our trip was in Napili and we ate often at Merriman's. As I mentioned, this serves as our comparator when it comes to bar dining. Great food and atmosphere and amazing views of the sunset. So we were looking for similar experiences in Wailea. We tend to like the bar dining because of the flexibility of not having to be at a restaurant at a certain time while in Hawaii!
So we dined at Nick's, Gannons, Duo, and Spago (twice). This is all from memory (and remember we ate at the bar!), so here goes...
No problem getting right in at the bar (around 7:30 ish on a Wednesday). We got there after dark (having watched the sunset from our beach first) and the restaurant was still busy, but I think we could have been seated there without reservations. The bar was not full and the service was reasonably good. The food was tasty, but not so much so that we wanted to go back on this trip. However, I must say here that we ate at Mama's Fish House for lunch that day and had just a limited appetite. I believe we had the Kalua Pig Pot Stickers and the Ahi Tiger Eye Sushi. My only regret was that we did not get the bananas foster dessert...
Duo (Thursday night):
Located in the Four Seasons, we also had no problem getting in, but the bar is very small and on a busier night it might be a problem. I can't remember everything we got, but everything was very good and I remember we had a duo of fries (potato and sweet potato with aioli), white cheddar truffle mac and cheese, Caramelized Maui Onion Soup, and an entree that I don't remember. The drinks were also good, but they had those horrible neon red maraschino cherries in an otherwise well-crafted Manhattan (see below for more ranting on that subject).
Spago (Friday night and Sunday night)
We had told ourselves that we would try a different place every night then choose the "winner" for our last night; that place was Spago. The bar is large and we had no problem getting in soon after sunset, but it filled up fairly quickly after that (especially on Friday night). They had a cocktail menu titled "Liquid Therapy" which we got a kick out of. The cocktails were excellent, but one gripe is that they still have those sickening, fake maraschino cherries AT THE FOUR SEASONS! (Both Spago and Duo had them. Really, people, cocktail cherries have come a long way since the 1970s.) One drink in particular we enjoyed was called something exotic, but we referred to it as "Vacation in a Glass" which is what we now call it when we make it at home. It is basically the martini version of a pina colada made with coconut rum, pineapple rum, and pineapple juice, so a lot fewer calories than the frozen version. The food was excellent. We especially liked the Spicy Ahi Poke in Sesame Miso Cones for an appetizer. We also enjoyed a corn risotto, a roasted chicken dish (I know, I know, chicken at an upscale restaurant? But a well done roasted chicken can be awesome, and this one was.), Thai curry with seafood, and a pork chop dish. We enjoyed them all.
Gannon's (Saturday night):
This was our latest arrival at any of the restaurants and since (I think) many people go there to dine while the sun is setting, many people had already cleared out by the time we got there. Large bar with plenty of seating in the center of the restaurant. Good cocktails and good food (and a great conversation with the owners of Tedeschi winery - a cute couple in their 80s), but not quite lively enough when we were there. Again, it was after sunset, but it WAS a Saturday night. We enjoyed the duck trio, lamb tandoori, and crab fonduta.
Well, that's it. Sorry there is not much detail regarding the food, but I do not take notes when I dine and it was 2 months ago. Maybe if I had not procrastinated so much...
The lobby lounge at the Four Seasons is really nice, we enjoy listening to the music while having a pre-dinner drink. The menu is decent, but I've only actually eaten there once and the food was fine, but this was after a few cocktails and my memory of the quality of the sushi I had is a bit fuzzy. I like the lobby lounge at the Kea Lani as well. They have a bar menu, but you really can order pretty much anything from any of the restaurants. I like the Oishi sushi dish they serve at Ko. The music here is nice too. I'm not sure when your trip is, but if it's open you should check out Alan Wong's new restaurant Amasia at the Grand Wailea. I'm hoping it will be a great addition to the dining scene. Monkeypod Kitchen has good food, but the ambiance is more noisy and energetic than at the hotels. But they have a good cocktail list, lots of beer on tap and great pies that are made daily. If you sit outside it's less hectic than inside. They have music here at night too. If the crab dip at Joe's is like the crab pizza topping at Hali'imaile General Store, then that would be worth a stop. The one time I ate at Joe's, though, I wasn't too keen on the atmosphere or service.
Juji, I was %100 underwhelmed when we had the crab pizza and %100 understood the hoopla when we ordered the crabdip and pita at Joes. That's why I think it might be fun for a drink. When we visited the bar had a number of regulars and it was a friendly atmosphere. I agree, it is always wise to check out 4S entertainment schedule. One year we saw some of the best hula for the price of two delicious cocktails.
Good to know about the crab dip, I'll have to give Joe's another try. I happen to really love the crab pizza, so we must just have different palates. I wish Gannon's would serve something similar, because then you would get the benefit of the view/atmosphere along with a spectacular dish. What dishes did you particularly like at Gannon's? I only ate dinner there once (after the transition from SeaWatch) and wasn't too impressed. I do love it for breakfast, though. And speaking of crab, the crab bisque at Tommy Bahama Cafe is amazing.